Your rental property is likely to be one of your most valuable assets – so it makes sense to take a strategic approach to maintaining and improving its value. It’s often said that you should spend around 1% of your investment property’s value maintaining it each year – but where should you be spending this money?
While your property manager can work with you to identify the areas that are likely to give you most ‘bang for buck’, it’s important that you understand your responsibilities and obligations as a landlord so that you can make wise choices that help you to attract and keep good tenants, while improving the value of your investment.
Your responsibilities as a landlord
As a landlord, you must:
- Keep the property reasonably clean and in reasonable repair
- Make any repairs that are agreed upon in the condition report or tenancy inspection
Obviously, ‘reasonably clean’ and ‘in reasonable repair’ are highly subjective terms – and likely to depend on many factors including the age of the property and the amount of rent your tenant is paying. For example, if your investment is an older building leased at a cheap rate – perhaps you’re looking for a tenant to pay the bills while you seek a permit to redevelop the property – it’s likely that both landlord and tenant understand that things are not expected to be in ‘as new’ condition.
Likewise, if an antiquated stove is part of the deal, it’s not reasonable for your tenant to expect you to replace it with a new, top-of-the-range model simply because they don’t enjoy using it; conversely, if the old stove stops working, you’re obliged to provide them with an alternative.
Whatever your situation, a good rule of thumb is to ensure that your rental is presented and maintained to a level that you’d be happy with if you were living there.
Your tenant’s responsibilities
Your tenant must:
- Keep the property reasonably clean
- Report any damage or maintenance issues as soon as possible
- Leave the property as near as possible to the condition in which they found it at the start of their tenancy, except for fair wear and tear
- Not add or remove fixtures, or make renovations or alterations without your written consent
- Not damage the property deliberately or through negligence
‘Fair wear and tear’ is another subjective term, broadly defined as damage resulting from reasonable use of the property over time. This might include the carpet wearing in high traffic areas, curtains or floorboards fading in the sun, or plaster cracks appearing over time.
Any damage to your property as a result of fair wear and tear is likely to be a non-urgent repair which is the landlord’s responsibility to fix.
What’s an urgent rental repair?
The Residential Tenancies Act distinguishes between urgent and non-urgent repairs. Common urgent rental property repairs include a burst hot water service, a blocked or broken toilet, a gas leak or serious roof leak, a dangerous electrical fault or the failure of an appliance provided for hot water, water, cooking, heating or laundry.
If an urgent repair issue arises and your tenant is unable to contact you or their property manager, they’re able to authorise repairs up to the cost of $1,800 on the spot. If the repair issue is classified as non-urgent, you or your property manager are required to address it within 14 days.
The Greg Hocking property management team works closely with our landlords to maintain and improve the value of their investment properties. Contact your local office today for advice from an experienced team who can guide you through your obligations as a landlord.